With the majority of people complaining that they are always tired because they never get enough sleep, it is easy to forget that people can also sleep too much. For those who oversleep, this can have just as much of an impact on health as a lack of sleep.
The amount of sleep that individuals need varies. As well as it being dependent on age, it also depends on activity levels and overall health. The average sleep time for adults is between seven and nine hours per night.
Medical Causes of Oversleeping
Those who suffer with hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) sleep for longer during the night and suffer with excessive levels of sleepiness during the day. People with hypersomnia can feel the need to nap frequently during the day, sometimes in the middle of a meal or other inopportune moments. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, restlessness, slower speech and thinking, hallucinations, irritability and poor memory.
Hypersomnia can be caused by sleep disorders (such as sleep apnoea or narcolepsy), dysfunctions in the nervous system and drug or alcohol abuse. Certain medications and head injuries can also cause symptoms of hypersomnia. There are treatments for hypersomnia, usually in the form of stimulants or other drugs. Lifestyle changes such as earlier nights and an improved diet can also help to control the symptoms.
Narcolepsy sufferers have similar symptoms and again, there are treatments to help sufferers to manage the condition. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs in around 60% of people aged over 65 years old, causing interruptions to breathing during sleep. Because these interruptions disrupt oxygen supply in the body, it forces the sufferer to wake up and breathe in. This interruption and waking up can occur constantly during the night. Many sufferers will have no recollection of waking up during the night and do not realise that they are losing sleep.
Oversleeping and Poor Health
Researchers have shown that those who sleep more than nine hours have a 50% greater chance of developing diabetes and there are higher levels of obesity seen in those who sleep more than nine hours per night.
For back pain sufferers, too much sleep can aggravate back pain, probably because the back muscles are able to relax for too long. For the many that suffer with headaches, oversleeping can affect neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing the likelihood of a headache developing.
Oversleeping and Mental Health
For those who suffer with depression, insomnia is a more common symptom than oversleeping, but hypersomnia can also occur, making the depression worse. There are also psychological effects from oversleeping. Those who have spent all morning in bed can find that their mood is not the best on waking, often feeling tired or angry and this mood can remain throughout the day. This can also start a cycle of sleeping in for longer every day, making the problem worse.
So with plenty of evidence available around oversleeping, it is quite safe to say that there is such a thing as too much sleep. Whatever the reason for oversleeping, it seems that it can have a serious effect on health and well-being.
This guest post was written and contributed by health blogger Robert on behalf of Archers Sleep Centre, one of the leading UK bed superstores.